By Lee Ji-eun
Once there was a time when "Dong-soong-ro Theater" was the symbol of the passion of college students. Our own mothers and fathers skipped classes to make it on time for the plays they were longing to see. After the play, they strolled around the Marronier Park, reminiscing on the lines that the actors delivered.
However, such days are gone, leaving as their only trace in the minds of some people a faded nostalgia. Small theaters have all been driven to the corners, ignored. Only few big, prominent theaters attract much business. This scene is a direct representation of where the theaters stand in our society.
The theatrical world is now going through a serious depression. Compared to last year, there has been a 30 percent decline in the number of theater-goers. Experts blame many of the theater's difficulties on the rise of other entertainment media. People can now encounter cultural activities in every corner of their lives through cable TV and the Internet. The media today can entertain you easily, and such a sense of convenience has soaked deeply into people's lives. However, theater, as an artistic medium, requires certain kinds of self-reflection and deep thinking by the audience," says Professor Kang Tae-kyung (English Lang. & Lit.). He adds, "Thus, it fails to fit the tastes of today's culture consumers." Another problem is that Korean theater has not taken up new challenges. We are so used to the topics, lines, and settings of theaters of the past that are still used today," says Jung Ji-hye (Sungkyunkwan Univ., 1). In today's vibrantly changing world where everything fresh is favored, the theaters are too stale to stimulate people's fastidious appetites.
Yet, some view these problems as an opportunity for a change. The organizers of the seventh Marginal Theater Festival, which took place in Dong-soong-ro from Nov. 6 to 21 have similar ideas. Titled "Ulimited: Eliminating the Barriers," the festival consisted of experimental theatrical plays by young artists that went through a thorough process of presentation, discussion, production, workshop performance, and further discussion. The Korean theaters have been trapped in a conservative thinking, and lacked experimental trials on pioneering the new theater. For such reasons, we came together to bring about the change," says Lim In-ja, the administrative manager of the seventh Marginal Theater Festival.
The organizers' overall goal is to bring down the barriers between theaters and the audience with new artists, new thoughts, and new experiments. "he dream for the mainstream, but we are happy enough to be marginal because we believe in what we do, and we believe in our potential," says Lim.